you put Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha and I in
a room together, we could probably identify with each other
around our military experience, but we would agree on little
else I’m afraid. If you accept the linear continuum model
of political orientation (which I don’t, but at least it’s
well known), then Murtha is center-right, and I am crimson-left.
precisely why this accolade I am about to write to his integrity
can be taken seriously.
is taking a lot of heat — again — for telling truths about
the American war of conquest in Iraq.
November 19th last year, a convoy of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion,
1st Marines drove through the village of Haditha — a Euphrates
River farming town in northwestern Anbar Province of Iraq
— where they were hit with an improvised explosive device,
killing Lance Corporal Miguel (T.J.) Terrazas, 20, from El
Paso, Texas. Fifteen Iraqi civilians were then killed by the
Marines, who later claimed that the civilians were killed
by the blast of the roadside bomb.
in January 2006, Time magazine went to the Pentagon
with video footage of the scene and 28 eyewitness reports
that suggested something else happened altogether. Those reports,
photographs, and video made an extremely strong case that
the Marines of Kilo Company went on a vengeance rampage, kicked
in the doors of civilian homes, and slaughtered 15 people,
including men, women, and small childen, two of the adults
being elderly grandparents.
Time story went public in March 2006. Subsequent inquires,
outside the military — which insists it is still investigating
— have strongly supported the eyewitness reports.
is some kind of unwritten protocol to give troops the benefit
of the doubt beyond anything that would be reasonable for
anyone else. Catharine MacKinnon writes, “Manners are often
taken more seriously than politics. There’s a politics to
anyone in the United States were a suspect in 15 homicides,
it’s a pretty good bet they’d be in custody. It’s also a pretty
good bet that these guys are not.
is telling the public that the Pentagon investigation will
show that the US Marines massacred civilians in Haditha in
is why I am grateful to Representative John Murtha for not
adhering to what is considered good manners. He is not only
defying Nancy Pelosi’s spineless and opportunistic directive
to avoid the issue of the Iraq war, when he says saying we
need to get our troops out of there pronto; he is now being
very explicit about why. The fact that he is a former Marine
with scar tissue from Vietnam only makes his public statement—that
the result of the investigation will confirm a massacre at
Haditha—discomfit the war-boosters of the right and the Schumer-Pelosi
sales managers of the center that much more.
know Murtha has an inside line to the Pentagon. That’s why
he prefigured the rebellion of the Generals earlier this year
with his declaration last year that the aggression in Iraq
is a disaster that will only improve by ending it. Murtha
knows what I know, and a lot of veterans who are willing to
tell the truth know. Imperial occupations are by their very
nature — in the words of Daniel Ellsberg — atrocity producing
war in Iraq is an atrocity itself — and no Democrat who fails
to oppose it deserves to ever hold public office again.
antagonism between the Iraqi population — over 85% of whom
want the US out — and those whose job description is to “control”
that population by any means necessary, is inherent, and therefore
is going to take some serious heat on this. Our political
culture abhors a non-conformist, and saying in a straightforward
way that we need to backhaul US troops out of Iraq — even
though that is now a majority position — is about as non-conformist
as you get over there these days. Pointing out that the military
behaves in ways that don’t conform to our chauvinistic ideals
of them is even more out of the box. So let there be no doubt:
Murtha is now a target.
means it is our responsibility to get his back. We have to
write and call his office to thank him for his integrity.
We have to write op-eds and letters to the editor rebutting
the inevitable and hateful demagogy that will be leveled at
him. We have to blog our approval, speak publicly of our approval,
call radio programs and C-Span with our approval, and tell
our own Representatives that he is the example we want them
do we need to do this (oh yuck) lobbyish thing? For the same
reason we need to bear down right this second with the same
members of Congress to sink the Hayden nomination.
have a government now running an imperial war that is reeling
with corruption scandals, lying scandals, spying scandals,
resignations, and the popularity of a roundworm infection.
But they are still very big, and they are still very powerful,
so we have to hit them over the head with clubs, throw sand
in their eyes, bite their fingers, scratch, kick, and otherwise
pummel them until they can’t get up. The loss of the Hayden
nomination combined with a My Lai massacre exposure are terrific
blows against this crew’s ability to govern… and not just
here, but out in the empire.
dirty. It’s time.